Footballer slams ‘dirty’ fans after shameful scenes spoil another play-off semi-final

Swindon Town footballers have slammed the fans they accused of attacking them after their League Two play-off semi-final at Port Vale last night.

Swindon defender Mandela Egbo has been branded ‘dirty’ home fans who surrounded some of the visiting players to taunt and throw punches at them as football was marred by a new outbreak of violence in a week of shame.

A Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for 24 weeks this week for headbutting Sheffield United player Billy Sharp after their League semi-final at the City Ground earlier this week. It was just one of many incidents in a week that prompted the Football League to promise swift action to contain the violence.

And after scenes Swindon boss Ben Garner called “disgusting”, Egbo took to Twitter to call out supporters who confronted him and his colleagues. The 24-year-old, born in London, said players need to keep their cool and not react even after being attacked.

He posted a photo of himself in the locker room after finally fleeing the crowd. He had a little scratch on his nose, and he said, “How do you crummy fans get two free shots and only get one scratch? And I’m supposed to keep my cool – if I react, I’m the bad guy, right?”

Swindon Town players are escorted off the pitch after being confronted by Port Vale fans in dramatic scenes last night

Garner was furious with the aftermath of the match which saw his side miss out on a place in a Wembley final by losing a penalty shootout. He said: “What they had to go through coming out of that pitch – the players were physically and verbally abused. I don’t know where we are going as a country, it’s absolutely disgusting.”

In similar scenes last night, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira appeared to kick an Everton fan invading the pitch after his side’s 3-2 loss at Goodison Park. He had crossed the field to regain the dugout outside when he was pushed by a spectator whom he tried to catch. Other supporters helped break up the scrum, but it was another tough time with fans on the pitch in England this week.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on the incidents that have occurred in recent days.

Tuesday – City Ground

Nottingham Forest season ticket holder Robert Biggs was jailed for 24 weeks on Thursday after he deliberately accused and headbutted Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp following a pitch invasion at the end of the semi-final second leg of the Sky Bet Championship. This knocked the Blades to the ground while teammate Oli McBurnie was also involved in a situation where he got tangled up with a fan. The Football Association has opened an investigation.

Supporter on the Everton pitch last night
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira was involved in unsavory events at the end of his side’s game at Everton last night

Wednesday – Sixfields

A day later, Mansfield striker Jordan Bowery was rammed by a Northampton fan in the second leg of their Sky Bet League Two play-off. This happened towards the end of the match, which the visiting Stags won 1-0. The English Football League has previously insisted it will consider “further measures” to tackle crowd misconduct over the summer.

Thursday – Vale Park

Port Vale triumphed on penalties over Swindon to progress to the League Two play-off final at Wembley later this month, but their successful night was overshadowed by another horrific situation involving fans and players. After Ellis Iandolo missed the spot for Town, Vale fans charged onto the pitch in celebration, but some immediately rushed towards the opposing team, with video footage appearing to show punches being thrown at the Swindon players.

Thursday – Goodison Park

There have been two separate occasions where the Everton faithful have spilled onto the Goodison Park pitch. Initially after Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal, which proved to be the winner of a 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace that ensured the Premier League’s survival, and again at full time. The first thankfully passed without anything of note, but the second resulted in Palace boss Patrick Vieira being involved in an apparent altercation with an Everton fan. The Eagles manager had to cross the pitch to get back to the outside dugout and after apparently being pushed by a spectator, Vieira turned and tried to grab the fan before he appeared to swing a kick in his direction. Other supporters helped break up the scrum, but it was the last sour moment with fans on the pitch in England this week.

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